Del Ray du Jour

Pause any time of day at Del Ray Café

Exquisiteness has swerved toward the homey in Del Ray.

After years spent mastering fine French cuisine at Old Town's La Bergerie, Laurent Janowsky has embraced a homier vibe at his new Del Ray Café.

Janowsky's strategy began long before any guests glanced at their menus. The restaurateur refurbished a split-level home, creating a country-inspired retreat with sliding barn doors and a screened-in porch overlooking the yard. Inside, classic Gallic songs filter through the rooms while the kitchen–presided over by La Bergerie veteran Sylvain Tonello–prepares crusty baguettes, herb-speckled roast potatoes ($5) and thick, summery dishes of ratatouille ($5) from breakfast through dinner.

The day starts with buttery pains au chocolate ($3), or eggs flanked by rotisserie ham, potatoes and warm bread with goat cheese ($14). By dinner, the kitchen is preparing snails in garlicky butter ($6) and tender local rabbit loin ($27) with smoky bacon in a light thyme sauce.

You can easily recreate the experience at home: The Café's nightly carryout special ($17), available from 4 to 9 p.m., will send you home with a three-pound chicken, roasted potatoes and a warm baguette.

Del Ray Café, 205 E. Howell Ave., Alexandria; 703-717-9151 or delraycafe.com